The Five Skills You Need To Sharpen For 2018

As Christmas nears, thoughts will undoubtedly turn to New Year planning and resolutions. So it comes as no surprise that many professionals start to think about their career plans for 2018.

According to career advice website TopResume, January and February are the best times of the year for finding work. If you're thinking of making the move to digital or upskilling in your current role, here are five essential skills to master.

“January and February is the best time of the year to look for a job. These are two of the best months to look for long-term, full-time jobs. These are the months most companies receive updated budgets and sales forecasts. Executives have a better idea of what they need and whether they can afford to hire new team members. Career advisors actually consider these the top months for hiring.”

So that’s the when, but this article will take you through the what. What are the five skills you should be sharpening before you send out your CVs on 2 January?

1. SEO

If you’ve spent any time on the internet in the last decade, three letters will have come up again and again: SEO.

And it is not surprising. 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. In real terms, search engines handle 6,586,013,574 queries a day.

SEO is a critical skills for digital marketers to master

That’s six billion, five hundred eighty-six million, thirteen thousand, five hundred and seventy-four, in case you’re wondering.

Whichever way you choose to look at those figures, the ability to put a prospective employer on the first page, or even top of a search result will make you instantly attractive.

Even if you are not looking to be the person in ultimate charge of SEO, knowing the benefits and practices of good SEO will make you a better marketer and better teammate.Learning the ropes of SEO will allow you effectively and confidently make directions to others or take action when needed.

SEO is a complex science – and it is a science, Google’s ranking algorithm has over 200 factors – and it is ever-changing.

But looking to the trends in the industry for 2018 will help you sharpen your skill set.

For 2018, beyond keyword implementation, there are a number of things you should focus on. Look at SERP, the rich snippets that go along with Google searches. Learn how to analyse your rankings within these and spot threats to your rankings within these snippets. Get familiar with a tool that monitors this.

You should also be learning about structured data, voice search and mobile search optimization.

SEO can be both a creative and technical challenge, so learn how to do both – from knowing how a website should look on the front end and how it should look under the bonnet.

2. Content Marketing

Every seminar you’ve attended in the last five years has told you this and it’s still true: content is king.

In 2017, 39% of companies were expecting to increase their content marketing spend, with 45% keeping it the same, according to a PointVisible survey.

That will mean that companies will be on the lookout for people who can deliver engaging, creative content.

Getting better at content actually works hand-in-hand with getting better at SEO. If you know how to deliver good content and know how to market that content and ensure it is seen, the chances of it going viral grows.

With content marketing budgets set to grow, companies will begin to think of content marketing as an in-house advertising channel. But content marketing has to be unique and fresh, which is where you come in.

Sharpen your writing and editing skills and keep track of your creative ideas.

Other areas to focus on include contextual experiences using the Internet of Things, working with influencers and focusing on transparency in copy.

Overall, analyst and content expert Rebecca Lieb told Salesforce, the content job is evolving rapidly.

I see the roles of a modern content team as really changing from maybe five or six years ago when people were saying, 'Oh, hire an out-of-work journalist. They're cheap and they can blog, and bingo, you've got content marketing.' That doesn't tie content strategically into other marketing activities, and it also doesn't address the changing formats of content.

“You also need people who have talent in content distribution and optimization. You need strategists who can help tie content teams together with other marketing functions, be they communications or branding or social media or advertising.”

3. Social Media Management

With the ever-switching nature of digital marketing in the last number of years, it is easy to forget the massive, massive impact that social media has had on the internet and the job of digital marketing.

But social networks remain the way people interact, browse and shop. With 3 billion or so people expected to be members of a social network by 2020, that’s a lot of people available to receive your marketing.

Social Media Management.

However, despite this, Small Business Trends reports that 24% of small businesses don’t use social media at all. Many will have to adopt at some point, meaning that they will need to hire staff.

For 2018, you should be focusing on community management, customer service and the increasing engagement in ephemeral content like Facebook and Instagram Stories.

4. Video

Once the domain of those who had a lot of money and a lot of time, video has become the last frontier of technological democratization.

Now, anyone with a phone can put on a TV show or create content that is watched by millions.

Video has become the last frontier of technological democratization.

And the importance of video goes far beyond whatever the viral sensation of the day is. The value of video is seen all over the internet:

With those figures in mind, learning how to make and market video is a no-brainer.

Familiarise yourself with the hardware and technical basics of filming video, particularly live-streamed video such as Facebook Live and Periscope. Get to know editing programmes and how to put together a basic video.

When you’ve done that, learn how to market that video. Treat your upload as you would any other and ensure that your meta tags, titling and descriptions will all help get your video seen.

And remember, as Ana Basto of FastWeb says:

“Video is like pizza - even if it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.”

5. Analytics

There is an old saying that “a man without a target hits nothing”. In the modern age we might say “a marketer who doesn’t track key metrics has no idea what they could be doing better and how”.

Our version probably won’t end up on a motivational poster, but remains true.

Tracking key metrics is critical for success in marketing.

The ability to find, interpret and implement your results will always be key in such a data-driven industry as digital marketing.

If you are familiar with the book and film Moneyball, you will know how data can be a great equalizer – if you know how to interpret it and use it. Learning how to view your data in a way that fits and benefits your strategy can overcome budgetary or personnel constraints.

For 2018, you should focus on expanding your knowledge of analytics tools beyond Google’s suite. Learn how to analyse eCommerce statistics and be ready for the glut of data from the Internet of Things.

The world of digital marketing is always evolving and the skills needed are in constant need of refreshment. Sharpening these five skills will help keep you at the top of your game in 2018.

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